My ex-wife’s advice to my son is horrible.1
Well, mostly horrible. There’s some good bits spread in among it. In general, though, there’s a lot of unexamined assumptions and rationalizations disguised as logical thought.
This is actually a good thing.
And I realized it because someone shouted “FAKE NEWS” at me on Facebook.
Allow me to explain.
Last week, I was involved in a big political thread on Facebook. It doesn’t matter what it was about, just suffice to say that I eventually linked to a CNN article. It didn’t matter that the article linked back to primary data to support itself.
Not. At. All.
Minutes after I posted that link, the reply came… and at the end of it, he said:
CNN = FAKE NEWS
And I knew that conversation was 100% done. Not because he disagreed with me, but because he was no longer thinking critically about his information sources. If he’d referred me to Fox News, I might have looked at it more critically than another news source, sure. I might have checked to find corroboration. But I’d think critically about it.
Which brings us back to my ex-wife.
She’s a smart person, and has a lot of knowledge and expertise. But there’s a great deal of chaff in there: unexamined assumptions, rationalizations, biases, and so on.
And this gives us a lot of teachable moments about critical thinking.
I do include my own screwups in these teachable moments. If it’s not inconvenient, it’s not a principle. I urge him constantly to use these skills on what I say, and how I say it.
Because at this point in his life, in this point in our country’s history, I’d much rather that he thinks critically about what I (and everyone else around him) says than simply have him agree with me.
1In my opinion, of course. She probably thinks the same about my advice, and that’s okay!